The party returned to Winterhaven to rest, only to find the town under siege! Or at least, acting like it was under siege, despite the lack of an invading army. The lord eventually let them in, and explained that undead had been seen roaming around the fields, abducting peasants. Could they maybe possibly go investigate the graveyard like, now, and figure out why?
So they went to the graveyard, and as they approached the glowing sigil inscribed in the ground in the blood of innocents, dozens of skeletons arose from disturbed graves all around them, to no one's surprise. Annoyingly, there were a couple of the horrible zombie dogs, but this time they mostly picked on Bore... although they hurt Sam a lot with one bite. Vexx also got quite a bit chewed up.
There was also an elven archer, the evil person who'd kidnapped all the peasants and used it to draw the sigil, as explained in the note she had on her after they killed her. Who needs interrogation when your enemies write everything down?
But since they hadn't been that badly hurt, they decided to head immediately back to the keep, instead of giving the enemies more time to prepare -- this had obviously been a trap set just for them, after all. Unfortunately, they weren't fast enough to avoid the welcoming party of hobgoblins that had been set up for them. Apparently, since they'd killed all the goblins Calarith had decided to upgrade.
Fortunately, the hobgoblins were pretty damn weak. Well, okay, there was one really nasty wizard-hobgoblin sparkler, but he got gangbanged by everyone after Alaric yanked him through his own lines to where the party could reach him, and only got off one (really NASTY) spell before dropping. But again, Vexx and Sam took the brunt of the attacks, and the rest of the party told them to kind of be careful, because if they ran out of healing surges they'd have to stop the entire attack to go back and rest, and it wasn't clear how many more days they had before Calarith's ritual was finished.
So of course, when the party headed down to the next level of the dungeon (after verifying that the areas they'd cleared were still clear), Sam and Vexx were the ones to rush ahead and expose themselves needlessly to zombie attacks. The first fight was still a slaughter, and only Vexx got hurt (when he decided to use his once-per-encounter scorching burst on the zombies across the room, who it barely scratched, instead of the minions who swarmed and nibbled him).
The second fight (actually, the second half of the same encounter) was triggered when Vexx deliberately stepped on the runes that Shanarea had spotted. Vexx and Sam and Bore all took damage from the screeching noise, but the real danger was the zombies that howled in response. Obviously, they were going to come attack the party. Bore tried to get everyone to back into the stairwell where they'd have one angle to defend and he could protect them all, but Shanarea and Sam and Alaric all insisted that they could camp the long hallway that the enemies would probably come down, and get free shots at them while they charged. There were places where the zombies could flank, but it wasn't a totally stupid plan.
Vexx decided to ignore the rest of the party and charge into unknown, trapped hallways all by himself. This WAS a totally stupid plan. Since Vexx was their only healer and running low on healing surges (and almost useless without party members standing next to him for him to use his powers through), Bore ran after him to try to help (while cursing his idiocy. LOUDLY cursing his idiocy). The few zombies that did run down the long hallway thus ended up fighting Bore and Lexx at the far end from the waiting wizards, who instead had to fight off the other zombies who flanked them, in melee.
Before the fight was even over, Vexx was shouting about battle and bravery, and charging further onwards. Luckily, there was nothing more for him to aggro on that level, and he stopped before running down the stairs to the next.
last session | next session
Afterwards, we tried to play a game called 'Agricola' that Tom had brought, but didn't get very far before people wanted to go home.